A distressingly high percentage of pharmacies do not have a pubic-facing website. PC Magazine reports that 29 percent of all businesses don’t have a website. There doesn’t seem to be a statistic available for pharmacies, but when I sample a our LTC Pharmacy Directory I am led to believe the same statistic (maybe higher) applies to LTC pharmacies.
The answer to why small businesses don’t have a website include a belief that businesses can manage their marketing through social media or that they have such a specialized niche that customers just manage to find them, even if there is no website to land on.
Whether you market to nursing homes, home health agencies, or individuals, your interest is local. If your pharmacy is located in California you really don’t care if nursing homes in Pennsylvania know who you are. You do care whether your prospective customer within 50 miles of your pharmacy knows who you are and is inclined to include you in their search for a pharmacy. As with politics, in the LTC pharmacy business all marketing is local.
This is an important concept. As we move along you will want set up your website and traffic analytics to focus on maximizing your results on local search rather than on general search. Your website is a central element of this process.
Try this. Enter “LTC Pharmacies Near Me” in Google Search and see what your results are. If your pharmacy doesn’t appear in the first page of the search results you have an opportunity to work on getting it there. Also, make note of which of your competitors shows up. We’ll talk more about that in another post.
There was a time, not too long ago, that you needed to have an in-house designer or hire the job out to build a website. With the advent of no-code or low-code technology you have a realistic option of doing it all in-house with relatively few skills. How to do it is less important than planning what you will want to include, and exclude from your site. Important topic that deserves its own post, which will be next.
Meanwhile, determining how much control you want over the site is a good first step. For example, if you hire a contractor you may need to keep going back to have tweaks created and to post updates. Customized code created by the developer or designer may look great but consider how frequently you will want to update the content and how difficult it will be. A designer/developer can create a site and turn it over to you to update and still be available if it starts to get away from you.
WordPress: One of the most popular platforms for website design is WordPress. More than 40 percent of all the websites in the world are built on WordPress, which is a content management system (CMS) based on php, a programming language that works with a database to make your site truly interactive. Relatively easy to learn and quite simple to update, WordPress is a well-known platform and there are thousands of designers that can help you build a WordPress site. There are also thousands of WordPress plug-ins and themes to help increase functionality and more thousands of theme templates that match the look you want to create.
Joomla and Drupal: Like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are open-source and free to download and run. These two CMS products have a steeper learning curve and expect you to have a working knowledge of markup language and php. They also have fewer plugins than WordPress and fewer professionals support these than WordPress.
This last group is known for its simplicity of use. You need no knowledge of markup language or any kind of coding. The major products in this group are Wix, Weebly and Squarespace,
Despite their ease-of-use they are capable of delivering a high-quality product with a good number of plug-in utilities.
Learning the process takes a very short time and the end product will be easy to build and update. Even though these platforms are simple, they do not have the robust array of plug-ins and support that are available on WordPress.
All of these website builders are either completely free (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal) or free to try. If you would like to see which platforms your favorite sites are built on, load a Chrome browser extension called whatruns.
When you find a website you really like, click on the extension in your browser toolbar and it will tell you what platform the site is built on and a load of other information as well.
The next post will discuss the elements of a good (or great) website.